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Cecil Gee put up for sale by Moss Bros

Moss Bros has put its designer branded men’s casualwear chain Cecil Gee up for sale. It is understood that the 13-store chain is being touted around as the menswear group looks to refocus on its core Moss chain and franchise operations.

According to industry sources, the sale of Cecil Gee, which sells brands including Armani Jeans, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren, Diesel and Ted Baker, is part of a long-term plan for Moss Bros to exit the ultra-competitive branded young fashion market and reinvigorate the group's core suiting business.

Moss is also planning to focus on its franchise business, which includes Hugo Boss, Canali and Simon Carter stores.

Interested parties have been given until the middle of September to put an offer on the table for the chain, which is thought to generate sales in excess of £12 million. Sources close to the situation said Moss Bros expected to receive about four serious bids and that there had been "plenty of interest" in the Cecil Gee business.

Cecil Gee has a raft of stores in prime locations including Bluewater in Kent, MetroCentre in Gateshead and Meadowhall in Sheffield, as well as stores in London’s Canary Wharf and Brent Cross.

Like-for-like sales at Cecil Gee were flat for the year to January 2008.

The sale is the latest part of the restructuring of Moss Bros to be put into practice since the potential bid from Icelandic suitor Baugur fell through earlier this year.

Last week, the company appointed Ciaran McCloskey to the board as group trading director, as well as former Speciality Retail Group managing director Brian Brick as an independent non-executive director. A new chairman, David Adams, was appointed in July. The group also plans to refurbish 30 of its Moss stores next year.

One menswear retailer said that disposing of Cecil Gee made sense for Moss Bros. He said: "Everyone knows that menswear trading is tough but formalwear is faring better than casualwear. Casualwear is the first thing a man looks to cut spend on when he is feeling the pinch."

Moss Bros declined to comment on the Cecil Gee sale.

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